The Guide To Arenal Volcano National Park

We use affiliate links to support our travels. Read more here

The Guide To Arenal Volcano National Park

Hola 👋

The Arenal Volcano National Park is one of those places in Costa Rica that you hear everyone talking about. It’s an active and  moody andesitic stratovolcano, and it’s stunning. The volcano has been dormant since 2010, and while it’s quiet now, it has erupted many times since modern record keeping in 1968. This guide will highlight information about Arenal Volcano National Park. Let’s go!

Park Hours: 8am-4pm Daily

Cost: USD $15 Adults / $5 Children

Cody at Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Pinterest

Park here and let’s go

Getting to Arenal

The town of La Fortuna serves as the gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park. Most visitors will already be staying in the area, and it’s a 25-minute drive from the city center. Plug in these Google Maps directions or follow the map below and you’re good to go.

It’s a brutal day trip if you’re trying to come from far for one day, and honestly, not worth the travel time. Take a few days to explore La Fortuna and the surrounding beauty. Maybe even get a tattoo like we did. Traveling from the Liberia Airport (LIR) takes around 2.5 hours, and coming from the San Jose Airport (SJO) takes around 3 hours.

An easy drive from La Fortuna


The park is open from 8am-4pm daily. When you get to the park entrance, you’ll see the ticket office as you drive through. The cost is USD $15 for adults and $5 for children. From there, you’ll be directed to the parking area by the official park sign.

Entrance to Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Pinterest

The ranger station and ticket kiosk

Before you park in the main lot, continue driving up the road to the first viewing area. You can always park first and walk it like we did by accident, but it’s hot and dusty and it’s way easier to drive it before the real hike begins. Don’t miss the first viewing point. It’s honestly the best viewpoint in the park and less crowded than the hike viewpoint with tons of people taking selfies. 

The first lookout to the Arenal Volcano
  • Pinterest

Keep driving past the parking area

Walking to Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Pinterest

Hiking trails to the right

Exploring The Park

Now to the fun part, but let’s clarify one thing. You won’t be scaling the mountain or reaching the summit of Arenal. This park is designed to guide you to nice viewpoints to see the volcano from a distance. It’s an active volcano that still emits plumes of smoke and should be considered a fun but cautious activity. Stay within the park limits and you’ll have a great time.

When entering, you’ll find well-marked trails suitable for all fitness levels. These trails offer views of the volcano, access to lava fields from past eruptions, and the chance to see wildlife such as snakes, birds, and occasionally sloths. The park’s layout allows for short hikes that are full of sights and sounds, including the possibility of hearing the volcano’s rumblings on active days.

The park map at the entry

Stairs in Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Pinterest

Watch your step

A viewpoint at Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Pinterest

Get those photos FTG

Hiring A Guide

Unlike most other national parks in Costa Rica, hiring a guide here doesn’t make much sense unless you want a narration of the history of the volcano. The trails are well marked and the signs are very informative. This is an easy one to do on your own. The only time we recommend going with a guide is if you’re already on a multi-activity tour like this and this is one of many stops. Otherwise, grab your daypack with plenty of water and go explore.

Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Pinterest

Don’t get too close

Good To Know

The thermal hot springs are located outside of the national park. Read more here.

Hot Springs

One of the unique features of the area around Arenal Volcano National Park is the abundance of natural hot springs in the surrounding areas. These thermal waters are heated by the volcano’s geothermal activity, offering a relaxing way to end a day of hiking and exploration.

While not directly inside the park, several hot springs facilities are located nearby, ranging from luxurious resorts to more budget-friendly options. Our favorite is the Rio Chollin FREE natural hot springs.


Free thermal hot springs back into town

Thermal hot springs in La Fortuna
  • Pinterest

Rinsing off after the park

Tips for Visiting

Bring the right shoes

Wear sturdy shoes suitable for uneven terrain. The trails are fairly well maintained, but you’ll be walking up slippery metal stairs and over volcanic lava flow areas. No need to roll an ankle here.

Bring the essentials

Like all parks in Costa Rica, there’s standing water and mosquitos. Pack some mosquito repellent, reef-safe sunscreen, water, and snacks for your visit. There are a few little markets outside of the main gate if you need to buy any last minute items, but it’s better to come prepared. Check out our complete Costa Rica packing list here.

Practice sustainable tourism

Arenal Volcano National Park is a popular attraction that is frequented by tons of people. Minimize your environmental impact by staying on the marked trails and disposing of trash responsibly in the provided bins.

Respect the wildlife

Keep a safe distance from animals and never feed them. Anna is further away than she looks in that picture. You don’t want to get bit by an eyelash viper.

Lodging with a View

Book lodging that gives you a view of the volcano. See our guide on La Fortuna for info about lodging options.

Our Airbnb looking at Areval Volcano
  • Pinterest

Our Airbnb… with a volcano in the back yard

Don’t Forget

You can buy almost anything you need in the area, but the prices of some items may surprise you. Sunscreen can cost upwards of $20 USD for a normal size tube at the local market. Some of our don’t forget items are listed below.

Sunscreen – Reapply all day when you’re outside. The sun is no joke here!
Bug Spray – Bugs are minimal in the day but mosquitoes often come out in the evening.
Quick-dry towel – These quick-dry towels are also sand free.
Waterproof hat – I like this floating hat, but any hat with coverage works.
Polarized sunglasses – They don’t have to break the bank. Check out these polarized sunglasses by Blenders.
Waterproof phone case – Great if you’re going to be on the ocean or near water.

Let’s go!

Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Costa Rica. Its unique landscape, coupled with the opportunity to witness volcanic activity up close, makes it an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re trekking through the lava fields, spotting wildlife, or soaking in the hot springs, Arenal offers a mix of adventure and relaxation. Plan your visit with these tips, and get ready to explore one of Costa Rica’s most iconic natural landmarks.

Don’t miss our full guide to La Fortuna here.

Thanks for your support 🤙

We just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU. This 100% all-content, junk-free website’s biggest source of support is when you use our affiliate links for any purchases. It helps us continue sharing our guides and tips, without any ads. There is no extra cost to you and it’s the easiest way you can support us. We truly appreciate it!

Trip questions? Let’s Connect!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Cody & Anna

Cody and Anna Traxler

We’re Cody and Anna, and we’ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. We’re not experts in every part of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Enjoy Ultimate Pura Vida and start planning here 🤙

Travel Tips Delivered

Popular Posts

Rental Car Deals

Featured Essential

Our Favorite Sand-free Towel

Microfiber Towel

Pin It on Pinterest

Skip to content